There were three talks today on iPS cells here at the American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy in Seattle.
Dr. James Ellis made the interesting case that it may actually be preferable to make iPS cells using genetic methods (while everyone else seems to be saying that non-genetic methods will be better). Dr. Ellis made the argument that it will be critical to have a genetic-based tracker (reporter) in the iPS cells to follow how they behave in the recipient in the context of a transplant. In this regard he referred to a hot topic at the meeting: gene therapy vectors that are insulated and hence not silenced in stem cells.
Dr. Charles Murray gave a talk on using hESC and iPS cells for therapy for heart disease. His work seems very promising and he showed a stunning video of an entire 10cm dish of human heart muscle made from iPS cells beating in synchrony…it was visible to the naked eye.
Then Dr. Eirini Papapetrou gave a talk on iPS cells where she argued that iPS cells could be made using “safe harbor” sites of integration in cells. These safe harbor sites were rigorously evaluated for minimal affects on gene expression.